Featured from GPK’s Blog

8 Years Ago… continued

Here’s the last installment of my reflections on my treatment for Leukemia

8 years ago…George

Day 24 of my stay in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.  No transplant.  Rather 7 days of 24 hour infusions.  Then watching as my body purges billions of dead cells.  Meditating, purging, meditation, purging.  Meanwhile, investing as much energy in meditating on replacing those dying cells with healthy, vibrant cells.

2 hours here.  4 hours there.  I meditated upon the quantum idea that if each of my cells can become ill, then each can die and be reborn anew.  Each day my blood was drawn and tested.  Accompanying my holistic approach, an intense regimen of steroidal substances was prescribed.  I self injected these into myself daily or every few days so as to help my bodies efforts to regenerate red blood cells and white blood cells.

Gradually, I watched as my immune system returned.  Each day I watched as my numbers climbed ever so slowly.  I had to hit “1000” in order for my immune system to be strong enough for me to leave the hospital wearing a mask and agreeing not to touch anyone.

So at day 24, my numbers were enough.  Not enough for making love or playing on a playground or riding public transportation, but enough to put on a mask and slink out of the hospital and into the protective boundaries of my newly cleaned home.

I had worked hard to get there.  I had fought the urge to give up.  I had laughed and joked with my caregivers.  I had cried long hours of despair at the prospect of leaving my children on their own.  I had meditated hour after hour and I had slept.  Some days I would sleep nearly the entire day only to wake up shivering in a pool of my own sweat as the chemo wreaked havoc on every functioning system in my body!

And here I was.  24 days later.  Ready to go home.  I was scared and excited.  The protective confines of my private room were to be stripped away.  No longer would visitors be required to don gowns and gloves. Just masks from now on until my numbers reached near normal levels.

As hard as I’d worked, I didn’t feel ready to set out on my own again.  But alas, ready or not, it was time to head home.  To my kids.  We’d made it this far with the help of my family and friends, we’d make it the rest of the way!

Here’s my journal entry for that day.  It was a big day!


I’m out of here today. Jim B. picked me up @ AMC today. I gave myself my neupagen shot sub-q and out we went.

As soon as we got to the parking garage the cold wind blew through the open walls of the parking garage and – although I wore a mask – the crisp cold fresh air was intoxicating. I stopped in my tracks and just breathed.

I came home, napped, went for a walk with Peter and Tessa. We stopped at Elaine and Mark’s. Sammy had just made cookies. Mmmm. We didn’t go inside. Just said hi.

Maria went to get my scrips filled.

I so missed just kidding around with the kids. My home feels enormous.

Resentment for me is possibly the most debilitating. Forgiveness and gratitude is the key (sic).

It was an interesting month, to say the least.  But this was my chance.  This was my opportunity for a “do-over”.  I had stared death in the face, made peace with it and granted an opportunity to start fresh.

Over the next several weeks I continued to heal.  My meditations were still powerful.  I imagine, however, that the energy for such an amazing recovery mostly came from the many walks I took with my children, the visits in my home by my dear friends and family.  The home cooked meals my neighbors and friends dropped off.  The hours and hours of sleep in my own bed.

5 weeks later is was driving again and heard on the radio an amazing song that so incredibly described the feeling I was living every day.  It was Tim McGraw’s “Live like you were dying”.  I never cried so hard from hearing a song on the radio.  I say outside my sister’s house in my car in her driveway as the song came to an end as I’d arrived for a visit.  I cried such powerful tears of joy and gratitude that day.  I was alive. I’d come “this close” to dying and I was alive!

Just four months after my treatment, I was pronounced “Cancer Free”.  But you’ll have to read the book to get the whole scoop!

Home.  They say it’s where the heart is.  In my case, I believe with every cell in my body that home is where the heart, the bone marrow and everything in between is.  It’s inside you.  You carry it with you where ever you go and you create it whenever you give your love.  So I say to you with all enthusiasm, with all hope and with all authenticity…

Live with vigor, love with all you’ve got and please, please, please…Make the Most of It!

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The ligthbulb goes off…”Somebody thinks I have cancer!”

Excerpted from Chapter 4 of iCanSir!

 ”On Sunday, my family visited early.  Maria brought my kids to see me.  With my surgical mask on, we walked around the hospital together.  …

On this day, My dad and I took a walk together as well.  It was a lovely walk up New Scotland Avenue that I hope I shall never forget.  The road is significant for several reasons.  The first is that just days ago it was where I was driving when Dr. Lou informed me of my situation.  It’s also special because Albany Law School, my alma mater, is directly across the street from the hospital.  I walked this road many times as a younger man.  This walk, on this day, was special.  I remember asking my Dad if he thought I was going to die?  Without really answering my question, we discussed the situation.  We talked about the kids.  The walk was just enough to wind me.

Then I had the day to myself.  I figured it would be a good time to catch up on the sleep that my body had long been craving.

I decided to commit a few hours to quiet meditation.  I started with my usual meditation techniques.  First I breathe deeply.  I allow my mind to go through its sort of manic reflections of the stuff on its plate.  This usually lasts only a minute or so as the breathing begins to have its calming effect.  I allow the various things that concern me to pop into my consciousness without getting too worried about them.  I know that those things will be here for me when I come back from my mental vacation.  I know that soon enough I will be beyond all of these worries as I allow my peace-inducing breathing to take over.

Two hours of solid breathing.  Inhaling peace and calm and serenity and exhaling agitation and stress and anxiety.  In and out.  In and out.  Like the wonderful rhythm of the ocean or a gentle mountain breeze or lovers intertwined.  Nice and easy and calm.  Nothing gets me in the zone like taking the time to do this.  It’s the best investment I can make in myself.

On this day, I was – in my mind – far from the confines of my hospital room.  I had transcended – as I had done a thousand times before – the physical limitations of my now diseased body and was soaring in the ether tethered only by my love of my children and life.

Then, after what felt like many relaxing hours of this wonderful transcendence, through the mist of “nothingness” I had conjured, the universe sent me a message.  It hit me.  It hit me like the proverbial “ton of bricks”.  My eyes snapped open and I froze.  I think if the nurses had come into my room at that moment, they would have seen the iconic light bulb illuminated and suspended above my head.

“Somebody thinks I have cancer?!”

Cancerversary Day 2 – The Funniest Bone Marrow Biopsy Ever

This post was excerpted from iCanSir! – Finding Hope and Connection…No Matter What! my book chronicling the healing journey and changing the vocabulary of the healing experience. 

Chapter Three: A side-bar on humor.

It was Friday.  I had only been in the hospital one night at this point.  Although I’d been there less than 24 hours, I’d been stuck with a needle at least a dozen times already.  Intravenous tubes for nutrition, hydration and transfusion had all been hooked up.  I was wondering when they were going to come in and change my transmission fluid!

At this point, you may recall, we knew that I was dealing with some type of lympho-proliforative disorder.  That’s something that had permeated my lymph system and disrupted the normal operation of my blood supply.  The hows and whys, we didn’t yet know.  I mentioned that there are a hundred (give or take) potential such disorders.  The next step was to narrow it down.  Doctors are an amazing bunch of scientists.  As a scientist myself (you didn’t know I was a double-major in college, did you?)

I was fascinated by the step-by-step approach my team took to identify what was making me so sick.  It also helped me to prepare as I understood what each step was designed to do.  I think it’s a good thing to have a grip on the plan.  It helps the patient to be involved and understand what’s going on.

So they’d done a bunch of blood tests.  They’d done blood counts and cell analysis from which they’d determined that my red blood cells were misshapen and not fully developed.  They’d determined that I had way too many white blood cells that were crowding out my red ones.  Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen through your body.  That explains my not being able to get enough air.  When you heart doesn’t get enough oxygen, it pumps faster.  That explains the heart pounding.

Next, we had to determine what was causing all of this disruption.  Since it was a blood issue, and blood is created in the bone marrow, the bone marrow was our next stop.  Now, this was something I didn’t know.  Your bone marrow does most of its blood production in the pelvis, the hands and the spine.  I had always thought it was in your arm and leg bones but apparently this is no longer thought to be true.  Anyhow, the pelvis was our next stop.  Oh, lucky me.

Did I mention that Albany Medical Center is a teaching hospital?  It happens also to be where both my father and my sister graduated from medical school.  Well, being a guest in a teaching hospital means that if it’s o.k. with you, they’ll march a whole troupe of medical students, interns and residents through your room (and your body) so that they can learn from your experience too.  I was all for this.  Knowing how important it is for doctors of the next generation to have a sense of what the patient is going through and how that patient’s attitude can make all the difference, I figured “I’m gonna teach these people something!”

So on Friday morning Dr. B came in with a half dozen medical students.  I’m my usual gregarious self and greeted them all with a bright “Good morning!”  I’m pretty sure that I was the only one who’d greeted them this way that morning because they all looked at me like I was an alien.  Now they’d all heard that I was a motivational speaker and now a record producer and concert promoter so I think there might have been some undeserved mystique about my room but not being one to burst their collective bubble, I played the role of the eccentric rock’n’roller wonderfully.  Earrings in place and attitude in mind, I was ready to teach these “kids” a thing or two.

Dr. B explained to me that in order to get a picture of what was going on in my pelvis (excuuuuuse me?) they needed to do what is called a bone marrow biopsy.  Sounds innocuous enough.  “O.K. so what’s that entail?” I wondered out loud.  Dr. B described the procedure in which they drill a small hole in my pelvis at the rearward portion of my hip, take a plug of bone for testing, insert a needle and draw out a sample of marrow for testing.  As he described the procedure, the blood (ironically enough) drained from my face.  The rock star attitude along with it.

Yikes, that sounded like it might hurt.  They offered morphine to help the pain.  Well, rock’n’roll attitude or not, I’m not real big on getting high unless it involves a helicopter and a pair of skis.  I passed on the morphine.  It wasn’t machismo.  It’s just that I’m very sensitive to exogenous chemicals of any kind in my body.  Even allergy medicine messes me up.

My sister had come to visit earlier that morning so she was still with me when Dr. B and his entourage (“my team” as I like to egocentrically call them) came in.  She encouraged me to take the pain meds as she had witnessed and even performed these bone marrow biopsies before.  I trusted my gut and declined again and we were ready to go.

They had me flatten my adjustable bed out, roll over onto my belly and pull my pajama pants down to expose my buttocks.  I was lying there with my bare behind sticking out like, well, bare buttocks.  My sister took my hand as I prepared for the local anesthetic.  This would, I would soon find out, numb the skin for the incision but would do nothing for the part about drilling into my pelvic bone.

“No pictures please” I blurted to the gathering crowd around my backside.  The room erupted in hysterics.  Who was this crazy man and why was he joking at a time like this?  Let me tell you, it’s exactly times like this to break out your best material.  I was scared to death.  I’m not going down without getting a laugh first!

Dr. B started the procedure.  The first step was the injection of the local anesthetic to numb the skin for the incision. So far, so good.  Next was the incision.  Only about an inch or so cut on the top of my buttock.  I couldn’t really feel anything then other than some pressure.  Next came the insertion of the core auger into this new cut on the top of my rear.  A little pressure.  Core drilling.  “O.K. now THIS f*#king HURTS!”  This guy is putting his whole body into it.  With all his weight, Dr. B is drilling into my pelvis.  The sound is so very deeply disturbing.  I hear this squeaking sound as the auger drills into my bone.  It reminds me of when a wood screw goes into a board and starts to get really tight toward the end.  I’m breathing really deep now and clutching Maria’s hand and the bed side with my sweaty hands and my backside is getting a tan from the overhead light.

Man was I glad Maria was there.  I’m still not sure but I may have broken her fingers in my clutch.  I was squeezing her hand so tight I thought for sure I’d break something.

Dr. B inserts the needle into the cavity inside my pelvic bone and begins drawing the sample.  The pain at this point is pretty much lingering from the drilling I’d just taken (literally!).  I feel some clicking and some strange vibrations and then, “All set!” I hear Dr. B say.  Music to my ears.  Music.  Music.  Yeah, good time to make a music reference, maybe sell some CDs.

“O.K. now, since we’re all so close, there’s no excuse for everyone in this room not to go to my concert next week.”  Again, the room erupts in laughter as I blot the sweat from my forehead and dry my hands.  As the blood returned to my sister’s hand, my humor had set everyone at ease (including me).  I’d shown that even when there are a lot of unknowns in the air, I could always choose my approach.  I could have freaked out, taken the morphine and been high all day or I could buck up, feel the pain, enjoy the moment and make everyone laugh with my hairy butt in the air in the process.  The choice was mine.

Now I’m not advocating that you decline pain medication if your pain is unbearable.  I’m just saying that you can decide ahead of time what pain you’re willing to bear in order to be sober enough to crack jokes.  In fact, something I didn’t know before this experience, scientists have proven that laughter enhances immune function and releases your body’s own natural pain killers called endorphins.  Without even knowing it I was applying natures oldest pain remedy.  By cracking wise with my team, I was teaching them and healing me at the same time.

Of course, I’ve also spoken with hundreds of people who advocate taking the opportunity to use the great drugs that you might ordinarily be disinclined to use.  Be it out of decorum, respect for the law, a sense of responsibility, there are people who would not partake in drugs.  Given the opportunity to do so legally, however, they’re all for it.  Hey, more power to ‘em. It just goes to show you that there are as many ways to approach something as there are people.  What I advocate is that you do what you feel right about.  If you want to try to tough it out to see what the pain will do to or for you, give it a try.  If you don’t, that’s fine too.  As long as you pay attention to what’s happening, you can learn from it.

Often times we take life so very seriously.  Sometimes that’s fine.  It’s important when you’re standing in front of a judge or an IRS auditor.  The danger comes when we start to take ourselves too seriously.  Life is a dangerous, exciting and funny adventure.  If we don’t balance our sense of humor and awe against our sense of self-importance, we’ll burn out from the pressure of it.  The flip side is true.  When we keep things in perspective with humor and sharing with others, we can strike a healthy balance among the things we’ve got to handle and how we handle it.

Just for giggles, take a moment to list five funny things you saw, said, heard, did or thought today.

A Classic “Law of Attraction” Moment!

I had a little (actually kind of huge) “Law of Attraction” moment last week. Can I share? GPKCLoseUp

5:30 AM I jump (I’m bragging, it was more like squirm) over to my iPhone to check my bank balance to confirm the transfer from PayPal so I can buy the gift cards, etc. for my Santa tomorrow at Albany Med – Pediatric Oncology Unit.*

*If you haven’t seen this story on Facebook, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version…

I was asked to be Santa this year at the Children’s Oncology Unit at Albany Medical Center Hospital.  This will happen tomorrow.  At the last minute last week, as we were preparing to pack stuff up for the kids, a major sponsor from years past, notified us that they were not going to be providing toys for our trip this year.  I went into panic mode and asked my Facebook friends what they thought we should do.  Within five days (5 days!) we had raised nearly $2,000 and donations of toys were arriving at my friend Geraldine’s house.  Geraldine runs a company that organized this trip called Happy Hats and More, Inc.  She’s a real trooper and an angel and has been super supportive of my books.  She always tries to share my message or give me an opportunity to do so.  Anyhow, so, we raise a bunch of money, FAST!…Now you’re up to speed…

At 5:30 AM this morning, the transfer hadn’t been complete. After a nano-second of – dare I say – “PANIC!”, I went on my PayPal account online to see if the funds had at least left the account on that end. The notation said “Transfer Complete”.


So, I wander around the house for about 15 minutes or so, cursing Al Gore for inventing the internet and the various web-Gods (Tungle: Demi-Lord of Time Management, Ebayowolf: Lord of E-commerce, and Intermes – Lord of all that is unholy and electronic). I then downloaded a customer service passcode for PayPal and settled down to wait until 7 AM Eastern to call the minions at PayPal to negotiate with the devil so that Santa can arrive tomorrow AM!

When I calmed myself – on a hunch – I checked my online bank balance once more. Alas! In the half-hour or 45 minutes of stewing and wasting the better part of what (if we belief those feisty Mayans) may very well be one of the last hours of one of my last full days here at H.O.M.E. – Here On Mother Earth.

Voila! Despite my best human efforts to be a weeny and whiner, it turns out after all that …Annuit Coeptis. The Gods do indeed favor our endeavor! They have shined favorably upon us and have indeed made it possible FOR SANTA TO GO SHOPPING TODAY!!!!!

Here are my takeaways…

1) Don’t be a spaz. Keep Calm and Carry On, It All Works Out (even when it doesn’t)!

2) See takeaway number one!

3) Why waste 45 or your last minutes alive fussing over something that’s in the hands of someone (or something or some force of nature) else? There isn’t a good reason

What are your takeaways?

Ho, ho, ho,


A situation so bad there’s a name for it…’Karoshi’ (and 5 things to do to avoid it)

Troubling trend in busy Japan – men are literally working themselves to death!

It’s called Karoshi.  When a man works so hard that – literally – it kills him.  Across Japan thousands of children are orphaned and wives widowed because their men have worked themselves to death.  Long hours, isolated commutes, fear of judgment and demotion drive men’s bodies to simply shut down.  Otherwise healthy men, dropping like flies with no apparent cause of death other than their hearts simply stopping their function.  No otherwise apparent cause of death.  That’s scary!

At what point does our attachment to the material trappings of our modern world – iPhones, iPads, xBoxes, sports cars, fancy shoes – become visible to us as the health hazards they are likely to be.  Of course, I’m typing this post on my Mac-book pro, I just checked my email on my iPhone and i’m double checking the look of this website on my iPad.  I’m aware of the irony.  At the same time, I’d like to think that I’ve struck (or I work daily to strike) a healthy balance.  I’d like to think that in my work I’m helping my clients find a balance among the cool opportunities technology gives us to actually improve our relationships by freeing us and our time.  In Japan, however, this frightening trend calls my attention to something we can certainly learn from.

Productivity May Be Overrated

Japan is celebrated as having one of the highest standards of living among highly developed nations.  The work force in Japan is second to none when measured upon per capita productivity.  At what point, however, is productivity outpaced by its own costs?

A startling trend is occurring as a direct result of chasing the attachments of productivity.  Directly translated, Karoshi means “death by overwork”.  For about 15 years, it’s been recognized as an official cause of death.  Due to Court rulings in Japan, the designation now yields specific death and survivor benefits that aren’t available to survivors of spouses and fathers who die other types of death.  Apparently all Karoshi victims are men (hmmm, interesting).  In 2000, Japan reports nearly 40 Karoshi (death by overwork).  In 2005, that number rose to 328.  Today, as many as 9000 Karoshi deaths (nearly as many as those who die in traffic accidents) are believed to occur in Japan each year.  Meanwhile, the hours Japanese men work continue to increase.

Meanwhile, in the tiny asian country of Bhutan, the government places great weight on the measurement of that nation’s GNH or Gross National Happiness!  (If you haven’t yet seen it, catch Tom Shadyac’s film Happy on Netflix and prepare to change your life!

Are we learning ANYTHING?

I work hard and I work a lot.  If I’m not coaching a C-level executive, I’m writing.  If I’m not writing, I’m speaking.  If I’m not doing that, I’m fiddling with a webpage, tinkering with an idea or training for an event.  Yes, I might be a workaholic.  The difference, however, is that I go to bed when I’m tired, I awake when I’m rested, I laugh my ass off on a regular basis and I place an inordinate premium on the quality of relationships (my kids, my siblings, my friends, my clients) in my life!

I think I’m doing something right because highly compensated influencers (mostly men) across the globe consistently seek my advice on how to balance the many demands on their time and talent.  The apply my strategies and their lives and influence expand and improve.  So when I say “We must bring balance into our lives!”, I’m confident that I’m on to something.

In my work with successful men, a recurring theme is the responsibility that comes with being a man in our world.  Blending the traditional roles we jump into with the modern skills necessary for the evolved man (strength with compassion, attraction with discipline, power with love, confidence with humility) are regular topics of my coaching.  Japan is showing us what happens when these dichotomies get out of whack.  I’d like us to avoid these pitfalls.

We want to work hard.  We LIKE to work hard.  We’re driven to work hard.  We also like to LIVE. So, as hard as we work, what can we do to balance our souls, heal our hearts and avoid the dread Karoshi?

Fortunately, neuroscience, sports psychology and cardiologists (unlike Congress) actually have some concrete suggestions for us.  Here are five simple, easy, fast and completely non-stigmatic things you can do everyday to reduce your risk of Karoshi.  Man or woman.  Hard-ass or new ager.  Uptight or loosey goosey. Republican, Democrat, Tea Party or Independent!

5 ways to avoid it…

1) Breathe – the simple act of breathing deeply refreshes the mind, clears the cobwebs, nourishes the body and recharges the soul. Start by taking three deep breaths to the count of 1…2…3…4.  Start by doing this three times a day or as often as you feel stress, whichever is more often.

2) Meditate on Gratitude and Compassion – just allowing the thought of love toward another person, animal or idea stimulates the left prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for compassionate feelings, calm and peace.  The more often this area is stimulated, the stronger it actually gets!  So when you really need it, it will be there for you.

3) Exercise 20 minutes a day – Even if it’s a quick walk around the block (about a mile), cardiologists tell us that this simple exertion (when coupled with a reasonable/sensible caloric intake) significantly improves our ability to safe weight loss and healthy weight management.

4) Laugh – laughter is proven to release endorphins.  These little compounds are critical to feeling good and have been proven to aid in healing and maintaining low blood pressure, cardiovascular health and digestion.

5) Get intimate – Assuming the exercise of good sense, common courtesy and safety – of course – a healthy sexual repertoire has been linked to reduced health risks from high blood pressure to cardiovascular disease to depression.  Sex releases endorphins like other forms of exercise do but it also releases compounds that scientists have dubbed “cuddle drugs”.  These hormones enhance our senses of connectivity, compassion and empathy.  These in turn, draw us closer to one another which, of course, has it’s own set of benefits!  More sex being just one of them.

So do your part to end Karoshi!  1, 2, 3, 4, 5!  Get to it.  Life is uncertain!

Live with vigor, love with all you’ve got, make the most of it! 

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iCanSir Book by GPK

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